Often dubbed “The HamilTonys”, the 2016 Tony Awards were dominated by Lin Manuel Miranda’s smash hit Hamilton winning 11 Tonys, just one short of tying the record set by The Producers. And it is still one of the hottest shows on Broadway. However, what if there was a universe where Hamilton was too innovative and too different for its time? What if Hamilton didn’t make it past the out-of-town try outs and faded into obscurity? What would the 2016 Tonys season have looked like? In this article I will be breaking down who may have been nominated in a world without Hamilton and who would have won in its place.
Best Orchestration Nominees
August Eriksmoen, Bright Star
Larry Hochman, She Loves Me
Darryl Walters, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Sara Bareilles, Waitress
In this scenario you are going to see Waitress come up a lot. And I don’t think anyone will argue against the orchestrations of this show. Sara Bareilles wrote a beautiful score and a nomination for Orchestrations is more than deserved.
And the winner is: August Eriksmoen, Bright Star
I think people forget just how good the music in Bright Star is. 2016 was an incredibly strong season. Bright Star has a beautiful blue grass feel to it and the orchestrations go flawlessly with its music. Bright Star may have gotten a bit lost in 2016, but I feel like this would be a nice nod towards what the show did and was.
Best Choreography Nominees
Savion Glover, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Hofesh Shechter, Fiddler on the Roof
Randy Skinner, Dames at Sea
Sergio Trujillo, On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan
Casey Nicholaw, Tuck Everlasting
Tuck Everlasting isn’t remembered for much these days. Unfortunately, its score underwhelmed many and the book wasn’t that highly regarded either. However, one thing it did have is absolutely beautiful choreography. Some people considered it a snub that it wasn’t nominated in the first place, so I think it falls in here pretty naturally.
And the winner is: Casey Nicholaw, Tuck Everlasting
This choreography choice is incredibly intense. But Tuck Everlasting has a style and beauty about it in the actors’ movements. Also, while people don’t like to admit it, politics certainly plays a role in Tony voting and Nicholaw as highly regarded as he is up to this point has never won a Tony for his choreo. So, between choreo being a strength of Tuck and Nicholaw not having won in this category yet, that he becomes the automatic favourite here.
Best Direction of a Musical Nominees
Michael Arden, Spring Awakening
John Doyle, The Color Purple
Scott Ells, She Loves Me
George C. Wolfe, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Bartlett Sher, Fiddler on the Roof
There were a lot of incredibly well directed shows this season. However, the revival of Fiddler on the Roof breathed new life into a timeless show. If it was possible to make that show anymore stunning Bartlett Sher found a way to do it. I think a nomination here is incredibly well deserved.
And the winner is: Michael Arden, Spring Awakening
I think in this scenario Michael Arden winning is a no brainer. A fantastic director who has yet to see his Tony who did a beautiful job with the Deaf West Spring Awakening. A well-deserved Tony for a gorgeous job on what is a very heavy musical.
Best Lighting Design of a Musical Nominees
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Ben Stanton, Spring Awakening
Justin Townsend, American Psycho
Japhy Weiderman, Bright Star
There isn’t an obvious choice here for what show would be nominated. However, Bright Star did have some very beautiful lighting effects that gave a really nice setting for the show.
And the winner is: Justin Townsend, American Psycho
American Psycho isn’t remembered for much these days although it did get some love. However, one thing it did do well is incredibly intense lighting design. The visual effects are incredible and are certainly worthy of a Tony.
Best Costume Design of a Musical Nominees
Gregg Barnes, Tuck Everlasting
Jeff Mahshie, She Loves Me
Ann Roth, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Ann Hould-Ward, The Color Purple
And the winner is: Gregg Barnes, Tuck Everlasting
Again, the visual beauty of Tuck Everlasting. As I said when they won choreography, there isn’t necessarily a lot that gets loved in terms of music or book. However, it is a very visually appealing show.
Best Scenic Design of a Musical Nominees
Es Devlin and Finn Ross, American Psycho
Santo Loquasto, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
David Rockwell, She Loves Me
Walt Spangler, Tuck Everlasting
Once again, Tuck Everlasting comes through to pick up another design nomination. Not much I can say here that I haven’t said already. This musical is simply stunning to look at.
Since She Loves Me won we will not be changing the winner of this category.
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Nominees
Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me
Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Keala Settle, Waitress
And the winner is: Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me
Jane gave a terrific performance in this production of She Loves Me. Everyone else here is amazing but that production was so incredible and Jane played her role so well this is well deserved
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Nominees
Brandon Victor Dixon, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress
Michael Mulheren, Bright Star
Steven Skybell, Fiddler on the Roof
Billy Porter, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
And the winner is: Billy Porter, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
This is a very tough category all of a sudden. A lot of fantastic men here. This was incredibly difficult to decide. However, Billy absolutely gave it all in Shuffle Along. And I think his performance really stood out.
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Nominees
Laura Benati, She Loves Me
Carmen Cusack, Bright Star
Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
Jessie Mueller, Waitress
Ana Villafañe, On Your Feet
On Your Feet is another musical that had a somewhat lukewarm reception. However, playing Gloria Estefan is not an easy task and Villafañe gives a great performance.
Since Cynthia Erivo won this award that year, we will not be changing the result here.
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Nominees
Alex Brightman, School of Rock
Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof
Zachary Levi, She Loves Me
Benjamin Walker, American Psycho
Note: For this category we are rolling with four nominees instead of five. All the male nominees from a major show have been nominated and any of the remaining shows did not get enough love from critics or voters in other categories that I feel comfortable adding a fifth nominee.
Benjamin Walker gave a fantastic performance as a serial killer. Some considered it a snub in the first place that he wasn’t nominated so he’s the obvious choice here.
And the winner is: Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof
Burstein as Tevye breathed all sorts of new life into the musical. Tevye is not an easy role to play in the first place and Burstein did it flawlessly. In a very tough leading male category, Burstein was the obvious choice here.
Best Original Score Nominees
Bright Star, Music by Steve Martin and Eddie Brickell, Lryics by Eddie Brickell
School of Rock, Music by Andrew Lloyd Webver, Lyrics by Glenn Slater
Waitress, Music and Lyrics by Sara Bareilles
American Psycho, Music and Lyrics by Duncan Sheik
The now fourth nominee was a tough one. There isn’t an obvious show that should step in. However, Duncan Sheik wrote a fantastic and very unique score that I think in this scenario would grab the attention of the voters.
And the winner is: Waitress, Music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles
Bareilles’s score for Waitress is nothing short of gorgeous. She wrote a very catchy score with songs that hit all the right notes. I think she hands down wins best score in this scenario.
Best Book of a Musical
Bright Star, Steve Martin
School of Rock, Julian Fellowes
Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, George C. Wolfe
Waitress, Jessie Nelson
Waitress being the next big musical of the season that wasn’t nominated I think giving it the nod for book here is a pretty no brainer. However, that being said the book of Waitress is quite a bit weaker than the overall score.
And the winner is: Bright Star, Steve Martin
I think Bright Star may have had a chance to win score. However, it also has a very strong book which is something Waitress didn’t have as much. So it makes more sense that Waitress would win where it’s really strong, and Bright Star would win book. And Bright Star definitely deserves this. The story does not have that many flaws in it and is overall a very well put together story
School of Rock
Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
I don’t think it’s too insane for American Psycho to be the next show up in this scenario. It already got acknowledged for its unique score and it collected a decent amount of nominations elsewhere. It would only have an outside chance of winning but to be the next show nominated I think is quite reasonable.
And the winner is: Waitress
Despite the shortcomings I mentioned earlier, I think Waitress is what would win. It seems like after Hamilton, Waitress was the baby of both fans and critics alike and this would lead to it getting the favour for Best Musical.
Well that’s the Tonys without Hamilton. Before I totally wrap this up though I’m going to crunch some numbers and breakdown which shows did well in an absence of Hamilton.
Please note that a couple of shows won awards and were nominated for awards pertaining to Revivals so there are some awards here won not seen in the actual article. As you can see this season becomes very spread out if Hamilton was not a thing.
American Psycho, Tuck Everlasting, and Waitress become the big winners. Each one picks up 3 more nominations and each picked up some wins as well. Bright Star also gets its recognition for awards.
Let me know what you think of these nominations and awards? Do you agree or do you think some shows should have won more?